Friends of Nature Celebrate Earth Day

Friends of Nature Celebrate Earth Day

Earth Day, as April 22nd is now known in many communities around the world, was celebrated in Chester by the Friends of Nature and by members of the Chester Garden Club at the site of a future nature park that borders Shoreham Village. The dozen or so volunteers had arrived to participate in a major tree-planting effort that is part of a long-range plan to turn a formally unused, scrub growth area into a pleasant nature park.

The building seen in the background of the photo above is situated on Highway 3, which runs along the north side of the park. The decision to convert the neglected forest and swamp area into a nature park resulted in the landscape being drastically altered last year by the removal of many crowded evergreens and dead trees. The natural course of a small waterway was cleared of debris and the streambanks improved. A few native shrubs were planted along the edge of the stream and plans were drawn up for the creation of wide pathways so that pedestrians and even wheelchair traffic would be able to move around easily in the natural setting. A low stone bridge has been built to provide access over the brook at one spot in anticipation of a path leading to that area.

Before setting out, the volunteers gathered around the leaders, Ken MacRury and Syd Dumaresq, to await instructions. Ken then demonstrated the art of using a commercial dibber to make the correct hole for the seedlings.

Having received his instructions, Rudy Haase, founder and chief coordinator of Friends of Nature, wasted no time in navigating through the debris to reach his tools in preparation for the afternoon’s work, as others began to re-group and head off to their choice of territory. The terrain was much rougher than any of the participants had expected and it was difficult at times to keep from tripping on old roots, and half-buried logs or rocks, often hidden in the deep grass.

Ken and Syd lined up flag-bedecked posts to demarcate the first three rows that the volunteers were to follow in planting the seedlings. The volunteers scrupulously planted their seedlings in the first few rows according to instructions (three paces apart and in line with the posts). Later, however, it was apparent that they had abandoned such detailed territorial assignments in view of more practical concerns such as how to get around the swampy marshland and how to adjust the plantings around a bed of shale.

Eager to get started, Rudy picked up a tray full of seedlings and a spade, and headed out to look for a team to join.

But not everyone else was ready. More discussion followed: “Who’s going to be on my team?” “Only one dibber per team!” “Here, let me have a try.”

Once the teams were sorted out, the volunteers worked their way carefully from one end of the field to the other. Here, having negotiated rocks, tree stumps and a large swathe of marsh, the troop is pushing through tangled hummocks of grass. The weather cooperated for the most part, with bright sunshine for most of the afternoon. A brief shower in mid-afternoon was not enough to dampen the spirits of those determined to finish the job.

Mid-way through the afternoon, Syd and Rudy relaxed for a moment at the edge of the little brook running through the property. By 3:30 pm, almost every one of the 840 seedlings (hemlock and red spruce) had been planted and the workers returned to the parking lot to refresh themselves with soft drinks and muffins, happy to have accomplished a gigantic job in honour of Earth Day. [ Thanks to Sandy Dumaresq for all the above photos]

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